Millions of people choose to rely on public transportation every day as an efficient and effective means to get where they need to go. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) there has been a 21% increase in public transit ridership since 1997, with more people choosing bus or rail transit than ever before.
The benefits of riding transit extend much further than simply getting from point A to point B. Here are some of the top ways transit is making positive impacts in our lives.
1. Improved personal health
Stepping away from the sedentary habit of car commuting is one of the top benefits of public transportation. Regularly walking and standing increases our physical mobility, which is proven to bring significant improvements to our health, such as weight loss and lower blood pressure. And beyond our physical health, research shows that transit riders enjoy mental health benefits too. Transit riders are happier, more social and less stressed, compared to commuters who travel by car. They also tend to be more productive at work.
2. Personal cost savings
Commuters who use public transit end up spending less money on transportation than those who commute by automobile. The costs of driving a car are considerable when you add in factors such as gas, insurance and parking — let alone repairs and maintenance. By some estimates, you can save over $10,000 per year on transportation costs by choosing transit over car, depending on where you live.
3. Community-wide economic benefits
Looking at the bigger economic picture, public transportation can be an economic boon to communities and urban centers. It's a powerful way to get people to and from work effectively and efficiently, which plays a large part in economic productivity. Transit agencies are also providers of hundreds or thousands of jobs — direct and indirect — that contribute to local economies.
Transit also spurs economic activity by supporting local businesses. According to studies, for every ten million dollars of transit investment made, local business sales increase by thirty million dollars. Property value is another less visible benefit of public transportation. As found by APTA, residential property is 42% more valuable if located near high-frequency transit service. This delivers greater prosperity for residents and greater tax revenues for cities.
4. Healthier, more inclusive communities and cities
In contrast to isolated solo travel in cars, public transit opens up possibilities for social interaction between riders, which leads to greater sociability and cohesiveness in our towns and cities. Centers with good public transportation also trend towards closer, more connected communities, with diverse land uses. This makes for healthier, happier communities and walkable, more accessible neighborhoods. Cars also contribute to traffic congestion, which clogs up public spaces and makes living uncomfortable for residents. Finally, public transportation makes mobility possible for people of all walks of life, meaning greater inclusion and accessibility for all to things like jobs, education and health care.
5. Environmental benefits
Last but not least, the environmental benefits of public transit are significant and make a big difference in our lives. According to APTA’s 2019 Factbook Report, the use of public transit saves 4.1 Billion gallons of gas each year. Compared to single-occupant car commuting, public transit uses considerably less natural resources and energy to transport considerably more people where they need to go. This has a big impact on energy conservation, as well as overall air quality, ozone levels and reducing fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. Cars also require large amounts of land for driving and storing them, which takes away from other important land uses and causes degradation of local ecosystems.
Want to learn more about the impact of public transit and what innovative transit solutions are shaping our communities? Read more.